Wednesday, January 30, 2008

While a whole lot hasn’t really happened since the last update I’ll try and make this as entertaining as possible. A couple of weeks ago, the circus came into town and generated a bunch of excitement. It wasn’t Ringling Bros. but it was pretty entertaining. There was a rumor that they had some animals but that it was too cold so after a day in Lankaran, they sent them back to Baku. So, the circus was more of an acrobatic display with music and all that stuff. Tickets were really cheap as well, so it was volunteer friendly. I was only able to take a few pictures before the circus staff came and told me to stop so I’ve posted the ones I do have here.

This past weekend, I went from Lankaran to a small village way up north and to the west called Qazax. It’s as far as I could travel from one volunteer site to another. I hadn’t been up in that region before, so for the first night I went the first 10 hours to my friend Ram’s house in Shamkir. He took me to a Georgian restaurant where we ate some amazing food then we just hung out at his place and played a lot of guitar. We wrote a song which I think sounds pretty good. The next day I went the last hour or so up to Qazax to meet up with two other volunteers where they had pizza waiting topped with none other than delicious bacon! The next day more people came over and the party was underway. I decided to pack up all my stuff that night since I knew that I would not want to pack at 6:30 in the morning when I would have to leave. It didn’t occur to me until I was in the taxi and on my way that I had left my camera and iPod at my friend’s apartment. Not that big a deal, but it makes a long bus ride feel that much longer.

I finally made it back to Lankaran and had a fairly interesting bus ride. It seemed to take forever, and everyone around me was very talkative so I didn’t get to sleep as much as I would have liked, but that’s ok. Arzu is in town doing some work until Thursday, so I’ve been able to hang out with her which is always fun. My director Rufat took us out to dinner Monday night. It was only us three but we had a great night, talking joking and eating. So after my weekend travels and then being up all night Monday, I’ve been exhausted all week. That about wraps it up. My pipes still aren’t fixed but hopefully I’ll be able to get someone over to take care of that sometime this week. Ashley has running water now so at least I can go over to his house and shower. It’ll still be nice to be able to get my house fixed though. Some people are heading up to Baku to watch the Super Bowl at one of the bars, but I won’t be making the trip, mainly to try and save some money. Other than that, I’m just waiting for winter to end.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I wrote everything but this paragraph a week or so ago, but have been either too lazy to post it or to cold to get up and get the phone line and connect it to my computer so I can go online to post it. Nothing much happened this past week though. In addition to the one broken pipe mentioned later, I also have two busted faucets as well. One of em flew about 2-3 feet from the wall!! Just waiting for that thaw. Anyways, like I said, nothing much new besides what’s written below. I had a new first for me today though, which is pretty exciting. It had been quite some time since I’ve been able to shower and was sitting in my room the other day watching a movie and finally got disgusted by my own smell (it really wasn't that bad, but I figured a cleaning couldn't hurt, you know). It was time to clean. I didn’t want to use any of the water that I had managed to save from the faucet though, so I gathered a bunch of snow by filling a bucket and a pan from my kitchen and then melted it on the gas heater in my main room. I let it get warm for about 5 hours or so then I walked outside to the shower room and cleansed. The cleaning part felt real nice. The miserable part was the fact that the room I was in was around 30 degrees. Needless to say, I moved quickly. And that was my first (I hope last) snow water bucket bath. I’m just grateful I live in the South of Azerbaijan. The pictures this time are of the winter wonderland of my yard and over my fence and then fireworks from New Years in the big park and the Lankaran volunteers (minus Tim who is on vacation) with the Azerbaijani Santa Clause and Ice Princess.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a fun and safe New Year extravaganza. The Lankaran group sure did. Ashley, Jane and Joyce came over to my house for a nice evening of chicken Lavangi dinner, games and drinks. Ashley and I have taught Jane and Joyce how to play Euchre, which is one of my favorite games, so we’ve been playing a lot of that lately. It’s a good four person game and it kills the time pretty well. The day before, Ashley and I went to the bazaar and bought a bunch of firecrackers (like black cats) and roman candles and some other small things. At night we walked around town adding to the general mayhem of everyone throwing off firecrackers and celebrating the New Year. We got to the big park in the middle of town just in time to see the big firework display that they had put together. It was pretty good, so I added a few pictures. Afterwards, we walked around a little more and went to go say hi and happy new year to my host family. We had some tea and cakes, of course. From there we headed over to Ashley’s house for more cards and to sleep. It was a good night, and a fun way to bring in the New Year.

This past week has been quiet since there wasn’t any work. All the offices and organizations close for a week for the holiday. It’s nice to have some time to get the house in order, start studying Russian again and things like that. I also watched a lot of movies. Yesterday, though, it was time to get back to work. It has also been getting pretty cold here. On Saturday I woke up to find a couple inches of snow on the ground. I was going to make a snow man in my yard, but figured the snow wouldn’t last long, like last year. So far, I have been very wrong. It has only gotten colder. The pipes in my house have been frozen the last several days, but luckily it’s been sunny and a little warmer in the day so they thaw a little bit. The first night I was caught off guard, but since then I have filled all the pots in my house with water and I even have an 18 liter bottle filled so I should be good for a little bit. If nothing else, I can always melt the snow down and use that for cooking, cleaning and what not.

Yesterday before work, I was hoping to take a shower. Nothing beats a hot shower in the morning on a cold day. To my disappointment, though, after checking all the faucets outside, everything was still frozen. Not that big a deal, I thought, so I went to work. On my way home, I was walking down the street by my house and heard a lot of running water. My first thought was, which faucet did I leave turned on?? When I walked into my yard I realized that it wasn’t a faucet that was running water, it was a broken pipe coming out of my shower room. Water was spraying everywhere and flooding the pathway to the toilet. So I went back outside and ran to my landlord’s house but no one was home, so I went to my neighbor across the street that always helps me whenever I have a problem. She said she’d call a repair man and the landlord and let them know what had happened. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out which valve to turn to make the water stop. I finally found it and lucky for me, the puddle that was gathering ran off so I don't have to skate my way to the bathroom.

I also made what appears to be turning out to be a wise purchase. Since it has been getting colder outside, the inside of my house has also been getting colder. If it is 30 outside, there’s a good chance the warmest part of my house is around 38-40 degrees. I decided to buy some plastic sheeting for my house since one side is pretty much all windows and they aren’t the tightest fit. After wrestling with the plastic for a couple hours, I got all my windows covered in the main room and in the kitchen. I only have a little bit left too, so I guessed how much I needed accurately, which I’m pretty happy about since I didn’t want to spend more than I would have to. After a couple hours last night, the temperature was around 50 while it was 28 outside, so I’d say its money well spent. And that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to this week. I’m picking my Russian lessons up again which keeps me busy and working on a few things with my office. Every day either on my way to or from work I get in a small snowball fight with some of the kids that live down my street. It’s fun. I usually win and every now and then they throw ice balls so I just whitewash them on the side of the road. Just kidding. I actually just say see ya later and walk away. All in all, it’s been a good month so far.